SOFTBALL COLLEGE: Arkansas slams the way to sweep


FAYETTEVILLE – It was a big moment for the Arkansas No. 20 softball team on Thursday at Bogle Park.

The Razorbacks opened the Woo Pig Classic with a double Drake sweep, with both games won with Grand Slams coming from behind. Kayla Green took the top honors in Game 1, while Danielle Gibson finished Game 2 straight up.

Arkansas (13-2) beat the Bulldogs 6-3 in the opener, before sweeping the last drink, 6-4. The Razorbacks have now won 12 straight games and remain a perfect 9-0 at home.

“We weren’t really shooting offensively, maybe pushing a little bit – and Drake’s pitchers got us off balance,” said Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel. “But our girls found a way to fight. And good teams find ways to win.”

Green, the Arkansas junior receiver, picked the perfect time for her big hit, as she entered the weekend showcase hitting 0.171 this season. But as the Hogs lost 3-1 to Drake at the bottom of the sixth inning, she landed a shot along the left-field line that cleared the fence – and cleared the bases – for the eventual grand slam winner. .

“I just wanted to go out there and have fun, and put it all on the pitch,” Green said. “I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing on the ball, I was thinking about what I knew I was capable of doing.”

Mary Haff, who pitched 20 straight innings without giving up a run, came on early against the Bulldogs in Game 1, allowing three hits and a run at the top of the first inning. After starting the match with a single, Drake’s Macy Johnson came in to score on Addie Lightner’s sacrificial volley.

Haff found his rhythm and held Drake with just one hit over the next three innings.

Arkansas tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth, when Green’s simple shallow center bloop brought Cally Kildow home.

After Drake started the fifth with a single and a walk, Haff was replaced by rookie Jenna Bloom. Lightener doubled up in one run, then came in to score on a sacrificed fly to give the Bulldogs a two-point lead.

Lennie Malkin and Hannah Gammill started the Arkansas offense in the sixth, starting with straight singles. Ryan Jackson landed a sacrificial decay and hit on a Bulldog error to load the bases. That’s when Green turned the tables on a 0-1 pitch from Drake’s Nicole Timmons. It appeared to be a long pop-up, but continued to navigate, landing just over the left fielder’s head and the 200-foot panel. This gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the game, 5-3.

“Their pitcher threw the upward ball at us all through the game, so on that last one at bat I just went up there to try and pilot the upward ball,” said Green. “I was just swinging out of my shoes, trying to stay on top of that rising ball, and I did.

Braxton Burnside passed Keely Huffine for the last inning and the three-end cushion.

Bloom (3-1) was flawless in the last two innings, putting Drake’s last six hitters in order.

Trailing 4-1 in the seventh inning of Game 2, Gibson capped yet another Razorback rally, abruptly ending the game with a base-laden explosion over the deep center field fence.

The late rally started with a single from Aly Manzo, followed by Sam Torres, then a mistake. Audrie LaValley was then hit with a pitch to charge the bases without a strikeout. Burnside single in the first inning to make 4-2, setting the table for Gibson.

“I think this team really feels that if they have any outs left they have a chance to win,” said Deifel.

Green put the Razorbacks ahead 1-0 with a brace in the second inning that marked Jackson, who had reached with a triple.

Arkansas freshman howler Lauren Howell made it through the first four innings, scattering four hits to keep the Bulldogs scoreless. But when Drake had two runners in the fifth, Deifel brought in Bloom to take over. Lightner picked Johnson to tie the game, before Emily Valtman punched Haylee Leyman to put the Bulldogs in front, 2-1.

After Gammill walked up and came in second on a wild pitch in the sixth, Green hit a two-out line down the center for his fourth hit of the day. Gammill was third, but center-back Macy Johnson to receiver Skylar Rigby was on target and beat Gammill at home plate for the final putout.

Drake extended the lead with two more points in the seventh, taking advantage of two Arkansas field errors.

Arkansas will play another doubles game today, hosting Kansas (5-4) at 3:00 p.m. and Northwestern (La.) State (6-2) at 5:30 p.m. The Razorbacks wrap up the weekend on Saturday against Northwestern (La.) State at 3 p.m.


About Maria Hunter

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